Talking about El Paso

I recently had a great phone conference with members of the Paso del Norte Group, which “promotes the economic, social and cultural vitality of the El Paso region.”

I spoke with Richard Behrenhausen (Gen. US Army, ret.) and David Buchmueller (COO of the PDN Group), who spoke with enthusiasm about the many assets of their city, and even discussed the regions challenges and misconceptions.

For example, most people are aware of El Paso’s large Mexican sister to the south – Cuidad Juarez.  Wracked by drug wars and corruption, Juarez recorded over 3,000 homicides in 2010, which is easily the highest murder rate in the world.

Yet just across the Rio Grande river, El Paso remains a world apart.  El Paso has the lowest violent crime rate in the United States for cities over 500,000 population, with only five homicides in 2010.

Some sociologists explain that the city’s low crime rate is a byproduct of its high percentage of fairly recent immigrants (over 80% of the residents are Hispanic.)  Their reasoning is that the newcomers are intent on making a successful new life for themselves and their family, which means working within the system and following its rules and laws.  This runs counter to the public’s popular misconception, encouraged by many politicians, that an immigrant population is synonymous with crime.

But back to El Paso…
As I mentioned, it was a very good conversation.  Tucked away in the corner of West Texas at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, it’s easy to overlook El Paso and I was glad to be reminded of all it has to offer.  It’s not likely to appeal to young adults looking to start their careers after graduating from college, but it’s tough to beat as a retirement location, especially for the military retiree.  El Paso is home to Ft. Bliss, one of the largest and best-equipped military bases in the United States.

Add in the bi-cultural community, local colleges, affordable housing, and the sunny, crisp high desert climate and you have a place that’s definitely worth a close look. I think you’ll be surprised at all it has to offer.


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